In 2005, Lawrence Summers (Harvard University) sparked a public debate when he suggested that the underrepresentation of women scientists in higher tenure-track positions might be related to innate gender differences in cognitive abilities. Not surprisingly, scientists took a pivotal position in the following public debate on gender differences. Starting from the ‘discursive event’ of the Summers controversy, my project analyzes socio-scientific debates on gender differences in the US American press in the period from the late 1970s to the early 2010s. My research objective is to study how scientists take part in regulating what may and may not be said about gender in public and how such public scientific debates relate to actual social inequalities.
My project is part of the transdisciplinary DOC-team project: “Criticizing Science by Politicizing Epistemology and the Body”. From the perspective of a feminist critique of science, the project analyzes aesthetic standardizations and normalizations of the female body in scientific and popular discourses on physical beauty. Ideologies underlying these discourses are uncovered by means of a critical discourse analysis.